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Artspace reveals new details for Hastings Lofts project

The Hastings Artspace Lofts will feature modern design that complements Hastings’ historic downtown. Image courtesy of Artspace

Artspace recently unveiled new details for the Artspace Hastings Lofts, a new mixed use development that will be built on the east end of the downtown business district.

The $11.7 million project will feature 37 live-work residential units for artists – affordable units that include not only living space but also room for personal art studios or work space. The plans also show an art gallery space as well as about 2,200 square feet of commercial space.

The project has been in planning stages since 2013, when the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council funded an Artspace feasibility study here. With the bulk of the project funding secured last fall, the project is now moving into the final planning stages. The site plan is expected to go through Planning Commission review on March 14, with City Council review scheduled for March 21, said project manager Becky Carlson St. Clair.

Features

The building will be three and a half stories. Although it does feature a more modern design than the downtown’s historic buildings, it doesn’t ignore the area’s historic quality. It has nine-foot-tall windows, mimicking the tall, narrow windows in other downtown buildings. It also uses brick on about 50 percent of the structure.

“Some people want a little more of the details of the downtown brought in, so we’ll look at that,” Carlson St. Clair said.

The Hastings Preservation Commission reviewed the plans on Feb. 16 and generally supported the design, commenting that the building was modern but still complements the rest of the downtown architecture. One commissioner, Gayle Caturia, opposed the design concept, saying it was too contemporary.

Inside, the commercial space will occupy the most prominent spot: the southwest corner of the building, right on the corner of Second and Tyler streets. That space could be occupied by a single business or be divided into multiple uses, Carlson St. Clair said. Artspace’s ideal use, she said, is a combination cafe with a bike shop or bike outfitter. A cafe brings more people into the building, she said, and a bicycle related shop would help link up with the city’s paved pedestrian/bicycle trail. The trail runs on an easement along the east side of the property and would not be affected by construction.

But the commercial space isn’t limited to those uses.

“It could be anything from a type of retail space to work studios to a non-profit organization,” Carlson St. Clair said. “There’s a variety of options for the space.”

Right next to the commercial space, along Tyler Street, Artspace is planning an art gallery. The rest of the building would be for residential units.

The site plan accounts for parking needs, with about 60 spaces available on-site. Some of those would be surface parking on the north side of the building, and the rest would be in an underground garage. Underground parking would not fill the entire footprint of the building, since bedrock rises close to the surface there.

Carlson St. Clair said she expects the future residents to be a mix of artists who already live in Hastings as well as those who currently live elsewhere in the Twin Cities.

“I’m assuming we’ll be advertising to the greater metro community,” she said, to capture the interest of people who might want to get away from city life.

An earlier survey Artspace conducted will be helpful in identifying where interested artists are currently living.

The lot where the Artspace Hastings Lofts will be built is currently a city-owned parking lot. It has been vacant for about 30 years. Although the city owns the entire block from Second Street to the First Street underpass, Artspace will only be using the southernmost acre. The rest of the lot, which is currently open gravel space, will remain under city ownership.

Community meetings

So far, people have been excited about the project, Carlson St. Clair said. Artspace has hosted two community presentations so far, one at City Hall for downtown businesses and a second this past Sunday at the River Valley Band concert at the Hastings Arts Center.

“For the most part … everybody was so excited to have that block developed,” Carlson St. Clair said.

Another informational meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m. at the BreakAway Arts Cafe, 111 East Third St., Hastings. That meeting is open to the public and will present information about Artspace and the Hastings Lofts project, including the most recent project renderings and site plans. There will also be general information qualifying to live in the building, although the more technical qualification criteria won’t be released until later in the construction process.

Carlson St. Clair encouraged the public to attend the March 31 meeting to see the latest images and ask questions.

Next steps

Next up is getting the necessary approvals and permits from the city and securing the last pieces of funding.

The majority of the funding has been secured, Carlson St. Clair said.

“We have just a real small gap right now,” she said. “... We’re in good shape right now.”

One unknown has to do with the soil on the site. Developers discovered that there are contaminated soils there, so now Artspace is working to identify exactly what’s in the soil and applying for grants to remediate the issue. The city had done some remediation in the 1990s, Carlson St. Clair said, but soil contamination standards have since changed, requiring more work to be done. She said that in the past, there had been a tannery on the site, and at another time there was some petroleum storage there.

Carlson St. Clair said Artspace is hoping for a July 1 start to construction. Construction is expected to last 12 months, with new residents moving in next summer, in 2017.

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